William Herbert Shipman

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William Herbert Shipman
Shipman family 1861.jpg
Shipman family c. 1861; Left to right:Oliver Taylor, Jane Stobie, Margaret Clarissa, William Cornelius, and William Herbert
Born 1854
Lahaina, Hawaii
Died 1943
Nationality Kingdom of Hawaii
United States
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Mary (Mele) Elizabeth Kahiwaaialiʻi Johnson
Children Caroline, Florence Lukini, Margaret Beatrice, Herbert Cornelius
Parents William Cornelius Shipman
Jane Stobie

William Herbert Shipman (1854–1943) was a wealthy businessman on the island of Hawaii. One estate of his family was used to preserve an endangered species of Hawaiian Goose. A historic house associated with his family for over a hundred years is called the W. H. Shipman House in Hilo, Hawaii.[1] Another of his historic estates called the Ainahou Ranch, built in 1941 as a refuge from World War II, is preserved within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.[2]


William Herbert Shipman (also known as "Willie" Shipman) was born December 17, 1854 at Lahaina, Hawaii, the son of missionary parents, William Cornelius Shipman (1824–1861) and Jane Stobie Shipman (1827–1904).[3] Just married in July 1853, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions had sent the Shipman missionaries to Micronesia.[4] However, they were told to leave the ship Chaica in Maui, since Dwight Baldwin was acting as a physician on Maui while Micronesia had none to handle the birth. In 1855 they were assigned the remote outpost of Waiʻōhinu in the Kaʻū district, replacing Rev. John D. Paris. From Wiaohinu, they were responsible for ministry in the entire Kaʻū District. Titus Coan, minister of Haili Church in Hilo personally welcomed the Shipmans to their new post on their arrival. On December 21, 1861 William Cornelius Shipman died from typhoid fever. Jane considered moving the family back to America at that point. However, Titus Coan encouraged her to start a school since she was a trained teacher. Jane moved the family to Hilo and began a school for both Hawaiian and white children to support her family. On July 8, 1868 she married businessman William H. Reed[5] (for whom Reed's Bay and Reed's island in Hilo are named).[6] W. H. Shipman attended Punahou School in Oahu and Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

In April 1879 Shipman married one of his mother's former students, Mary (Mele) Elizabeth Kahiwaaialiʻi Johnson, the great-grand-niece of Isaac Davis.[7] His sister Margaret Clarissa (1859–1891) married politician and businessman Lorrin Thurston. A few years after Margaret's death, Thurston organized the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. He also had one brother, Oliver Taylor (1857–1942) who became a businessman and local government official.[8] He had daughters Mary, Clara, Caroline, Florence Lukini, and Margaret Beatrice, and five sons of whom only the youngest, Herbert Cornelius (1892–1976), survived his father. He died on July 8, 1943.[9]

The family business[edit]

Returning to the island from college, he became manager of Kapapala Ranch, which was owned by his stepfather William Reed and C. B. Richardson. This early introduction to ranching had a lasting influence. After marriage, he moved to Kapoho, Hawaii, the easternmost point of the island, in the Puna District. Reed died in 1880 with no children of his own, so William Herbert inherited the Reed land holdings. In 1881 he and two partners (Captain J. E. Eldarts and S. M. Damon) purchased the entire ahupaʻa (ancient land division) of Keaʻau, about 70,000 acres (28,000 ha), for $20,000 from the King Lunalilo estate. William went into business for himself in 1882, buying out his partners and eventually founding the W. H. Shipman Limited corporation in 1923.[9] The family also had a dairy poultry farm. He was involved in several court cases over this land, including the case known as "Shipman v. Nawahi" of 1886, named for Puna lawyer Joseph Nāwahī.[10]

In 1898, the United States of America annexed the islands (after years of lobbying by his former brother-in-law Lorrin Thurston, since re-married) which became the Territory of Hawaii. This meant agricultural products shipped to the vast American market were no longer subject to any duties. He leased much of his land to grow sugar cane, coffee, and other tropical fruit. In 1899 he leased properties to the new Olaʻa Sugar Company in Keaʻau. A large mill was built in 1900, which operated until 1982 (then called the Puna Sugar Company).[11]

The endangered Hawaiian Goose

He built a house in 1904 near the remote Haena beach on his land, coordinates 19°38′32″N 154°59′7″W / 19.64222°N 154.98528°W / 19.64222; -154.98528. In the Hawaiian language, ʻena means "red hot", probably due to being downhill from the Kīlauea volcano.[12] In 1911, he formed the Hilo Meat Company to market the cattle from his ranches, his brother Oliver's ranch, and the even larger Parker Ranch on the northern part of the island.[13] His son Herbert C. Shipman (1892–1976) took over the company in 1943 after W. H. Shipman's death. Herbert is best known for breeding the endangered Hawaiian Goose (known as nēnē in the Hawaiian language, Branta sandvicensis) on the remote Puna Shipman Estate. He started with four birds in 1918 as the species was starting to decline.[14][15] Herbert also started commercial growing of Orchids and introduced the anthurium to the Island.

In 1948, some of the land was sold to be planted with macadamia nut trees, which has grown into the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation plantation.[16] In 1959, the company sold about 15 square miles (39 km2) of this land which became the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision. Because of the agricultural zoning, lots are all 1-acre (4,000 m2) in size.[17] In 1976 a park in Keaʻau was named in Herbert Shipman's honor, at coordinates 19°37′17″N 155°2′32″W / 19.62139°N 155.04222°W / 19.62139; -155.04222.[18] Herbert's nephew Roy Shipman Blackshear (1923–2006) continued the work of raising the nēnē, and headed the company from 1976 until 1994.[19] Robert Cooper, a non family member of the Company then became President while Roy Blackshear became its first (non executive) Chairman of the Board. Cooper was followed by Robert Saunders several years later after which Cooper again became President. In 2002, Roy Blackshear resigned from the Board to go into full retirement. His nephew William Walter became Chairman of the Board. In 2005 William Walter became President and CEO of the Company now managed cooperatively with cousin Thomas English, both fourth generation descendants. The company still owned about 17,000 acres (69 km2) in the Puna district in 2009, including an industrial park near the current town of Keaʻau.[20] Since Hawaii state law requires public access to all ocean shorelines, controversies have surrounded attempts to keep vehicles off the roads through the Shipman Puna property.[21]


  1. ^ Gary Cummins and M. Mitchell (December 1973). "W. H. Shipman House nomination form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  2. ^ Janet Keswick and Thomas Quinlan (December 1994). "Ainahou Ranch nomination form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  3. ^ Rita Shipman Carl (1962). The Shipman family in America. p. 195. 
  4. ^ Orramel Hinckley Gulick (1918). The pilgrims of Hawaii: their own story of their pilgrimage from New England. Fleming H. Revell company. p. 346. ISBN 0-524-09143-9. 
  5. ^ "Marriages: Hawaii Island (1832-1910)". Hawaiian Genealogy Indexes. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  6. ^ John R.K. Clark (2002). Hawaiʻi place names: shores, beaches, and surf sites. University of Hawaiʻi Press. p. 325. ISBN 0-8248-2451-2. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  7. ^ "Marriages: Oahu (1832-1910)". Hawaiian Genealogy Indexes. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  8. ^ John William Siddall (1917). Men of Hawaii. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. 359. 
  9. ^ a b "History". W. H. Shipman, Limited. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  10. ^ Wade Warren Thayer et al., ed. (1916). A digest of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Paradise of the Pacific Press. 
  11. ^ "Puna Sugar Company/Olaa Sugar Company". Hawaii Sugar Planters Association Archives. University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  12. ^ Lloyd J. Soehren. "lookup of haena". Hawaiian Place Names web site. University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  13. ^ Billy Bergen (2003). Loyal to the land: the legendary Parker Ranch. University of Hawaii Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-8248-2692-5. 
  14. ^ John R. K. Clark (1985). Beaches of the Big Island. University of Hawaii Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-8248-0976-8. 
  15. ^ "Saving the Nene, the World's Rarest Goose". National geographic 128 (National Geographic Society). 1965. p. 749. 
  16. ^ Sandra Wagner-Wright (1995). History of the macadamia nut industry in Hawai'i, 1881-1981. E. Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-9097-0. 
  17. ^ "Hawaiian Paradise Park (HPP)". Big Island Real Estate, Hilo Real Estate. Hilo, HI, USA: Island Trust Properties. Archived from the original on 2013-02-23. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  18. ^ Department of Parks and Recreation (2000). "Environmental Impact Statement for Herbert Shipman Park". County of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  19. ^ Mary Vorsino (January 2, 2007). "Obituaries:Roy Blackshear, Shipman president". Honolulu Advertiser. 
  20. ^ "Big Island company expands vision for Puna district". Pacific Business News (Honolulu). February 1, 2008. 
  21. ^ Rod Thompson (July 29, 2008). "Anti-car boulders might be illegal, county reports". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 

Further reading[edit]